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September 22, 2019

7/24/2019 12:36:00 PM
Action needed on school superintendent

Dear School Board Members,
Your letter to the community does not address the damage that has been done to individuals and the larger culture in La Conner schools. It’s clearly an attempt to assuage the public without any substantial change being made. It appears that you are attempting to protect the superintendent at the expense of the school district, its employees and students. It’s the employees and students that need protecting. It is time for action. There needs to be an investigation of the “leadership” that perpetrated intimidation, bullying and harassment.
Furthermore, it appears that district policy would mandate such an investigation in its own documents, i.e. Policy #3207, which claims “The board is committed to a safe and civil educational environment for all students, employees, parents/legal guardians, volunteers and community members that is free from harassment, intimidation or bullying.” These prohibited acts are defined as behavior that “substantially disrupts the orderly operation of the school.”
When 79 and 80% of the school teachers and staff vote “no confidence” in the superintendent, the operations of the school are substantially disrupted. The superintendent’s contract should not have been renewed and extended in February, as the serious breakdown of trust was already evident when school employees were reluctant to answer questions on an online survey created by the superintendent. The employees feared retaliation. This was common knowledge. When the “Summary of Superintendent Feedback” was published it included the need for growth in the areas of “Personnel Relations.” Her “management style” with personnel got worse, instead.
Several valued employees resigned in 2019. Why? One highly praised employee was harassed and refused to resign. We know that the superintendent then created a false evaluation of this employee. The employee was forced to hire an attorney to refute this document, which threatened the employee’s career. (The lawyer was successful.) Three times the employee asked to meet with the superintendent’s supervisors (the school board) without the perpetrator present and the request was denied.
The superintendent violated the state’s Open Meetings Act in an attempt to obfuscate attempts to eliminate this employee. The debacle left this employee $9,415 in debt with legal fees to protect her reputation. It left her without a job and it left her traumatized. And it cost the tax payers $30,000 in hush money. (After paying her legal fees and taxes, she’ll have enough left over to buy a really nice bicycle.) Why?
The behavior of superintendent Meissner is a risk to the fiscal health of the district and the emotional health of the community. And yet the board was poised to give her a raise and pad her contract with golden parachute giveaways. This was without hearing from the unions or the public first.
It would only make sense that an investigation be undertaken by someone other than the superintendent or her minions. You can begin now, and postpone making further mistakes, or you can postpone the inevitable and be left to explain your bad decisions later.
Maggie Wilder
Resident and artist Maggie Wilder is sister to Georgia Johnson, former food services manager for the La Conner School District.

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